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American Sucker    by David Denby order for
American Sucker
by David Denby
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

David Denby's America Sucker, an account of the author's life from early 2000 into 2002, follows the accompanying stock market high peaks and subsequent lows. Denby is a writer and also a journalist, who begins his memoir as he is living in New York with his wife and two sons. After his wife delivers the news that she is no longer happy in the marriage, and that it cannot be worked out between them, a separation quickly ensues. Husband and wife find separate domiciles while keeping their Manhattan apartment as a 'home base'. Denby and his wife take turns staying there with their two sons, hoping that this arrangement will minimize the shock of their breakup.

Nonetheless, three living arrangements prove expensive. Denby loves the Manhattan apartment and its value has steadily, if not dramatically, climbed since it was purchased. It would be a shame to sell it. Denby and his wife agree that he will buy out her share. However, he needs to raise one million dollars to do so. Denby decides he will accomplish this formidable task within a year by investing in the booming stock market. This is the focus of American Sucker. Denby and his wife do not immediately split their finances nor do they rush through a 'quickie divorce.' Instead, their lines of communication remain open and she assents to his investing most of their assets and liquid funds in the stock market. Some would argue that Denby is acting responsibly because he is trying to preserve the Manhattan apartment and to increase the net worth of what will soon be two separate financial lives. After all, what was one household for many years has now become two, with separate needs. Their teenage boys are growing rapidly and soon there will be college to consider for the elder son.

Denby proceeds to invest, invest, and invest in the stock market. He seems to have become obsessed, so that the investing practically took on a life of its own. Denby follows stock analysts and CNBC daily. He becomes acquainted with ImClone founder Sam Waksal and Henry Blodget, a Merrill Lynch Internet analyst. It's quite a ride, and I recommend American Sucker to anyone interested in the US economy and the stock market. It's not a how-to investment book, but rather a touching, at times poignant, chronicle of a man who is trying to preserve his beloved home. Readers see how he is swept into the world of investments, optimism, hope, greed and risk, in the process.

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